Sep 23: Moonglow


Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Date: Monday, Sep 23, 2019
Time: 7:30 pm**
Host: Bob & Janet
Discussion: Michele

Staff Pick

Written as a deathbed confession, Moonglow charts the course of a Jewish delinquent’s life from the hustle of Philly to the munitions factories of Hitler’s Germany to the reaches of NASA’s rocket program. A sly novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow bursts with the prose fireworks and profound compassion of Chabon’s finest work. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com

Chabon uses a memoir-ish format to tell the story about his grandparents’ often-turbulent marriage. Or, at least, that’s what he says he’s doing. Our narrator is Chabon’s grandfather, who painstakingly retells the story of his complicated and troubled marriage. Addressing issues of mental illness, the love of science, death, grief, marriage, and the toll on family when one member is mentally ill, Chabon does a wonderful job. His prose is straightforward; he has a great facility for humor, and I was sucked into his story immediately. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments
Following on the heels of his New York Times bestselling novel Telegraph Avenue, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon delivers another literary masterpiece: a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure—and the forces that work to destroy us.

In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact — and the creative power — of keeping secrets and telling lies. It is a portrait of the difficult but passionate love between the narrator’s grandfather and his grandmother, an enigmatic woman broken by her experience growing up in war-torn France. It is also a tour de force of speculative autobiography in which Chabon devises and reveals a secret history of his own imagination.

From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York’s Wallkill prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of the “American Century,” the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most moving and inventive.

“[C]harming and elegantly structured….What seduces the reader is Chabon’s language, which reinvents the world, joyously, on almost every page.” Publishers Weekly

“Moonglow blurs the line between autobiography and fiction in interesting ways, and manages to feel more artful than most memoirs and more true than most novels.” Bookish

“Luminous….The story builds to core revelations of wartime horror and postwar heartbreak as powerful as they come.” Library Journal (Starred Review)

“His most beautifully realized novel to date….a masterful and resounding novel of the dark and blazing forces that forged our tumultuous, confounding, and precious world.” Booklist (Starred Review)

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Coming Up

Meeting Plans

The Samurai's Garden

August 26

The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
Host: Allan
Time: 7:30 pm**
Discussion Leader: Lois

Sep 23

Book: Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Host: Bob/Janet
Time: 7:30 pm
Discussion Leader: Michele
There There

Oct 28

Book: There There by Tommy Orange
Host: Marilynn/Ros
Time: 1:30 pm
Discussion Leader: (volunteer)

Books to Read

Recommendations & Ideas For Future Reading

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Marilynn). Powell’s: This debut novel from poet Ocean Vuong is heartbreaking and revelatory, writing from a place writers rarely dare to tread.
  • The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Lois)
  • The Plot Against America or another novel by Philip Roth. We read American Pastoral – see Philip Roth’s Best Book, NY Times
  • They Came Like Swallows by Williams Maxwell
  • The 10 Best Books of 2017 from the NYTimes
  • On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee (Janet)
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – memoir (Lois)
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary. Nonfiction. (Robin)
  • Harold Fry Series (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy) by Rachel Joyce (Jo)
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales. (Jo)
  • Youngblood by Matt Gallagher. The US military is preparing to withdraw from Iraq, and newly-minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles to accept how it’s happening—through alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands. (Don)
  • The Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (Allan)
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Deanna)
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (Allan, Jo)
  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood memoir by Fatima Marnissi (Deanna)
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Elaine)
  • Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks (Nina)
  • A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe (1964) – Entertainment Weekly
  • Money by Martin Amis (1985) – Entertainment Weekly
  • The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse (1943) – Entertainment Weekly
  • Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison – Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction (1993), National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (1992)
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Jo)
  • War by Sebastian Junger
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan – history, nonfiction
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – memoir
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David Mccullough
  • Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage by David Ignatius
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2009)
  • Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  • The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

Authors to read:

  • Don DeLillo: Libra, White Noise, Pafko at the Wall, The Names
  • Carl Hiaasen (satirical novelist, books based in Florida)
  • Grace Paley
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Saul Bellow
  • John Updike
  • Gay Talese
  • Suzan Lori-Parks
  • Ivan Doig
  • Stanislav Lemm
  • John Cheever

Suggest a Book

Reading History

2019-08The Samurai's GardenGailTsukiyamaLois
2019-07The ImmortalistsChloeBenjaminAllan
2019-06A Gentleman in MoscowAmorTowlesBarbara
2019-05Wolf BorderSarahHallJanet
2019-04Born a Crime
2019-03ZamaAntonioDi Benedetto
2019-02Alexander HamiltonRonChernowDeanna
2019-01PachinkoMin Jin LeeBarbara
2018-12The Invention of Hugo CabretBrianSelznickJanet
2018-11Childhood’s EndArthur C.ClarkeMichele
2018-10The Underground RailroadColsonWhiteheadMarilynn
2018-09The Reluctant FundamentalistMohsinHamidBob
2018-08H is for HawkHelenMacdonaldDeanna
2018-07The Line of BeautyAlanHollinghurstAllan
2018-06Red SparrowJasonMatthewsLois
2018-05SlideCarlWolfson*author in attendance
2018-04Salvage the BonesJesmynWardRobin
2018-03Exit WestMohsinHamidMarilynn
2018-02The DinnerHermanKochDeanna & Wilfried
2018-01Norwegian by NightDerek B.MillerJanet
2017-12Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in CrisisJ.D.VanceAllen
2017-11The Neruda CaseRobertoAmpueroMarilyn
2017-09Lincoln in the BardoGeorgeSaundersAllen
2017-08Before the FallNoahHawleyJo
2017-07The Cellist of SarajevoStevenGallowayBob
2017-06Crow LakeMaryLawsonMichele
2017-05Tough Girl: An Olympian's JourneyCarolynWood*author in attendance
2017-04The Handmaid’s TaleMargaretAtwoodJo
2017-03The VegetarianHanKangJanet
2017-02The SelloutPaulBeattyMarilynn
2016-11This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!JonathanEvisonJanet
2016-09The Round HouseLouiseErdichRobin
2016-07Our Souls at NightKentHarufMichele
2016-06Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBenFountainBob
2016-05A Little LifeHanyaYanagiharaJo
2016-04City of ThievesDavidBenioffAllan
2016-02Unnecessary WomanRabihAlameddineJo
2015-12The Girl on the TrainPaulaHawkinsMichele
2015-11All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthonyDoerrRobin
2015-10Super Sad True Love StoryGaryShteyngartAllan
2015-09The MartianAndyWeirJanet
2015-08Birds Without WingsLouisde BernieresDeanna
2015-06The Snow ChildEowynIveyBob
2015-05The Last of the BlacksmithsClaireGebben*author in attendance
2015-04Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndAtulGawandeElaine
2015-03Death of a River GuideRichardFlanaganWilfried
2015-02The Ocean at the End of the LaneNeilGaimanRobin
2015-01The Signature of All ThingsElizabethGilbertAllan
2014-12The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyMary AnnShafferMarilynn
2014-11The Leisure SeekerMichaelZadoorianMichele
2014-10The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsDaniel JamesBrownDon
2014-09The Hungry TideAmitavGhoshWilfried
2014-08Where'd You Go, BernadetteMariaSempleJanet
2014-07A Constellation of Vital PhenomenaAnthonyMarraJanet
2014-06One Amazing ThingChitra BanerjeeDivakaruniAllan
2014-05The Yellow BirdsKevinPowersBob
2014-04Life After LifeKateAtkinsonJo
2014-03A Tale for the Time BeingRuthOzekiMarilynn
2014-01Sue Grafton Alphabet SeriesSueGrafton
2013-12PerlaCarolinaDe RobertisDeanna
2013-11The Orphan Master's SonAdamJohnsonAllan
2013-09The OrchardistAmandaCoplinMichele
2013-08A Home at the End of the WorldMichaelCunninghamJanet
2013-07Beautiful RuinsJessWalterJohn & Ilana
2013-06A Lady's Life in the Rocky MountainsIsabella L.BirdDeanna
2013-04The Sense of an EndingJulianBarnesWilfried
2013-03The Night CircusErinMorgensternMarilyn
2012-12The Art of FieldingChadHarbachDon
2012-11Mink RiverBrianDoyleJohn and Ilana
2012-09The Sea RunnersIvanDoigJanet
2012-08The Tiger's WifeTeaObrehtMichele
2012-07Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseJonathan SafranFoerElaine
2012-06Purple HibiscusChimamanda NgoziAdichieDon
2012-04The Sisters BrothersPatrickDeWittAllan
2012-03The Social AnimalDavidBrooksJohn
2012-02The Girl Who Fell From The SkyHeidi W.Durrow
2012-01The Lemon TreeSandyTolan
2011-12The ImperfectionistsTomRachman
2011-11The Many Aspects of Mobile Home LivingMartinClark
2011-10In the Company of AngelsThomasKennedy
2011-09Lean on PeteWillyVlautinMichele
2011-08The Hunger GamesSuzanneCollins
2011-07A Visit from the Goon SquadJenniferEgan
2011-06The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksRebeccaSkloot
2011-05Cutting for StoneAbrahamVerghese
2011-04The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two FatesWesMoore
2011-02Parrot & Olivier in AmericaPeterCarey
2011-01The Farming of BonesEdwidgeDanticat
2010-12Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAronRalston
2010-11Red AprilSantiagoRoncagliolo
2010-10The HelpKathrynStockett
2010-09The Importance of Being EarnestOscarWilde
2010-08Baron in the TreesItaloCalvino
2010-07The White TigerAravindAdiga
2010-06I Know This Much is TrueWallyLamb
2010-05Let the Great World SpinColumMcCann
2010-04Lost HorizonJamesHilton
2010-03Olive KitteridgeElizabethStrout
2010-02The Space Between UsThrityUmrigar
2010-01The Constant GardenerJohn le Carre
2009-12The Catcher in the RyeJ DSalinger
2009-11The Girl with the Dragon TattooStiegLarsson
2009-10Things Fall ApartChinuaAchebe
2009-09The Heart is a Lonely HunterCarsonMcCullersMichele
2009-08The Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese FamilyLaurenKessler
2009-06The Enchantress of FlorenceSalmanRushdie
2009-05Mister PipLloydJones
2009-04Lush LifeRichardPrice
2009-02The MoviegoerWalkerPercy
2009-01Wide Sargasso SeaJeanRhys
2008-12Revolutionary RoadRichardYates
2008-10Victim of the AuroraThomasKeneally
2008-09Dreams From My FatherBarackObama
2008-08Out Stealing HorsesPerPetterson
2008-07Three Cups of TeaGregMortenson
2008-06The Red and the BlackStendhal
2008-04Kitty & VirgilPaulBailey
2008-04Persepolis and Persepolis 2MarjaneSatrapiMichele
2008-03The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoJunotDíaz
2008-02The Golden NotebookDoris MayLessing
2007-12The Amateur MarriageAnneTyler
2007-11The Memory of RunningRonMcLarty
2007-10Friday Night Lights: a Town a TeamH.G.Bissinger
2007-10The Blind Side: Evolution of a GameMichaelLewis
2007-09Water for ElephantsSaraGruen
2007-08The History of LoveNicoleKrauss
2007-07The MarchE.L.Doctorow
2007-06Suite FrancaisIreneNemirovsky
2007-05Devil in a Blue DressWalterMosley
2007-04The Inheritance of LossKiranDesai
2007-03The Professor and the MadmanSimonWinchester
2007-02Little ChildrenTomPerrotta
2007-01The Little FriendDonnaTartt
2006-12Desperate CharactersPaulaFox
2006-11The HuntersJamesSalter
2006-10Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or SucceedJaredDiamond
2006-08The Road to WellvilleT.C.Boyle
2006-07Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the WestGregoryMaguire
2006-06The ArchivestMarthaCooley
2006-04ParadisoJose LezamaLima
2006-02A Confederacy of DuncesJohn KennedyToole
2006-01In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its ConsequencesTrumanCapote
2005-12The Left Hand of DarknessUrsula K.Le Guin*author in attendance
2005-11Brick LaneMonicaAli
2005-10The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed AmericaErikLarson
2005-09A Trip to the StarsNicholasChristopher
2005-07Brazzaville BeachWilliamBoyd
2005-06The Lovely BonesAliceSebold
2005-05The TapestriesKienNguyen
2005-04Dogs of BabelCarolynParkhurst
2005-03The Known WorldEdward P.Jones
2005-02Peace Like a RiverLeifEnger
2005-01Everything is IlluminatedJonathan SafranFoer
2004-12The Book of SaltMoniqueTruong
2004-11About a BoyNickHornby
2004-09The Kite RunnerKhaledHosseini
2004-08The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeMarkHaddon
2004-07Chronicle of a Death ForetoldGabriel GarciaMarquez
2004-06Master and CommanderPatrickO'Brian
2004-04Life of PiYannMartel
2004-02Fahrenheit 451RayBradbury
2004-01Saints and VillainsDeniseGiardina
2003-12Three JunesJuliaGlass
2003-11Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented ArchitectureRossKing
2003-10Seabiscuit: An American LegendLauraHillenbrand
2003-09A Lesson Before DyingErnestGaines
2003-08The CorrectionsJonathanFranzen
2003-07Open HouseElizabethBerg
2003-06Cold MountainCharlesFrazier
2003-05Fencing the SkyJamesGalvin
2003-03Fast Food NationEricSchlosser
2003-02True History of the Kelly GangPeterCarey
2003-01The Night ReaderAmisteadMaupin
2002-12Make Lemonade and True BelieverVirginia EuwerWolff
2002-11A Bend in the RiverV.S.Naipaul
2002-10Motherless BrooklynJonathanLethem
2002-09The Blind AssassinMargaretAtwood
2002-08The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayMichaelChabon
2002-07Girl With a Pearl EarringTracyChevalier
2002-06The Feast of LoveCharlesBaxter
2002-04The SparrowMary DoriaRussell
2002-03A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusDaveEggers
2002-02La Dame dans l’Auto avec des Lunettes et un Fusil (Lady in a Car with Glasses & a Gun)SébastienJaprisot
2002-01The House of Sand and FogAndre Dubus III
2001-12Platero and IJuan RamónJiménez
2001-11This Side of BrightnessColumMcCann
2001-10Mendel's DwarfSimonMawer
2001-08American PastoralPhilipRoth
2001-07The Man Who Fell in Love with the MoonTomSpanbauer
2001-06A Map of the WorldJaneHamilton
2001-05The Widow KillerPavelKohout
2001-04The HoursMichaelCunningham
2001-02The Magician's AssistantAnnPatchett
2001-01Life & Death in ShanghaiNienCheng
1999-12Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneJ.K.Rowling
1999-12The TempestWilliamShakespeare
1999-11The Poisonwood BibleBarbaraKingsolver
1999-10Memoirs of a GeishaArthurGolden
1999-09July's PeopleNadineGordimer
1999-08The Executioner's SongNorman Mailer
1999-07Enduring LoveIanMcEwan
1999-06The BeachAlex Garland
1999-05One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestKen Kesey
1999-04The Invisible ManRalph Waldo Ellison
1999-03Piano LessonsNoah Adams
1999-02The ReaderBernhard Schlink
1999-01Native SonRichard Wright
1998-12The Perfect StormSebastian Junger
1998-11Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck
1998-10Cold MountainCharles Frazer
1998-09Main StreetSinclair Lewis
1998-08BetrayedRita HayworthManuel Puig
1998-07Sons & LoversD.H.Lawrence
1998-06The Sky FishermanCraig Lesley
1998-05The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway
1998-04A Civil ActionJonathan Harr
1998-03The Bone PeopleKeri Hulme
1998-02Undaunted CourageStephen Ambrose
1997-12Behind the Scenes at the MuseumKate Atkinson
1997-11Native SpeakerChang-Rae Lee
1997-10Into the WildJon Krackauer
1997-09The Talented Mr. RipleyBarbara Hightower
1997-08The Ghost RoadPat Barker
1997-07Independent PeopleHaldor Laxness
1997-06Last OrdersGraham Swift
1997-05She’s Come UndoneWally Lamb
1997-04Midnight in the Garden of Good & EvilJohn Berendt
1997-03Montana 1948Larry Watson
1997-02Brothers KaramazovFyodor M. Dostoevsky
1996-12The Woman LitFirefliesJimHarrison
1996-11Stones from the RiverUrsulaHegi
1996-10Praying for SheetrockMelissa FayGreene
1996-09The PaperboyPeteDexter
1996-08Independence DayRichardFord
1996-06Corelli’s MandolinLouisDe Bernieres
1996-05Open SecretsAliceMunro
1996-04In the Lake of the WoodsTimO’Brien
1996-03Mr. VertigoPaulAuster
1996-02Snow Falling on CedarsDavidGuterson
1995-12The AlienistCalebCarr
1995-11The Stone DiariesCarolShields
1995-10Spectator BirdWallaceStegner
1995-09Cowboys Are My WeaknessPamHouston
1995-08Body & SoulFrankConroy
1995-07Killer AngelsMichaelShara
1994-12Jungle BookRudyard Kipling
1994-11The Shipping NewsAnnie Proulx
1994-10Goat BrothersLarry Colton
1994-09All the Pretty HorsesCormack McCarty
1994-08Pugilist at RestThom Jones
1994-07Venus EnvyRita Mae Brown
1994-06The English PatientMichael Ondaatje
1994-05Rebel AngelsRobertson Davies
1993-12Where the Bluebird Sings in the Lemonade SpringsWallaceStegner
1993-11A Story like the WindLawrence Vanderpost
1993-10Age of InnocenceEdithWharton
1993-09LolitaVladimir Nabakov
1993-08How the Garcia Girls Lost Their AccentsJulia Alvarez
1993-07Autobiography of Malcolm XMalcolm X
1993-06Pilgrim’s HarborFloyd Skloot
1993-05Great PlainsIan Frazier
1992-12The Brothers KDavid JamesDuncan
1992-11Animal DreamsBarbaraKingsolver
1992-10Natural SelectionFrederickBarthelme
1992-08Remains of the DayKazuoIshiari
1992-06Rising SunMichaelCrichton
1991-12The House of the SpiritsIsabelAllende
1991-11Death Comes for the ArchbishopWillaCather
1991-10Smilla’s Sense of SnowPeterHøeg
1991-09Young Men and FireNorman Maclean
1991-08Leaving CheyenneLarry McMurtry
1991-07Portrait of a LadyHenry James
1991-06Ordinary Love & Good WillJaneSmiley
1991-05A Yellow Raft in Blue WaterMichaelDorris
1991-04Den of ThievesJames B.Stewart
1991-03Palace WalkNaguibMahfouz





  • Robin – January 10, 2019
  • Janet – February 25
  • Ros – March 25
  • Lois – April 22, 7:30 p.m.*
  • Michele – Tuesday, May 28*
  • Barbara* – June 24
  • Deanna – July 22
  • Allan – August 26 **7:30 pm**
  • Bob – September 23 (7:30 pm)
  • Marilynn – October 28 **1:30 pm**
  • Wilfried – November 25 (1:30 pm)
  • Gary – December 16* (1:30 pm)
  • Robin – January 27, 2020 (1:30 pm)
  • Janet – February 24 (1:30 pm)
  • Ros – March 23 (1:30 pm)
  • Lois – April 27 **7:30 pm**
  • Michele – May 18* (7:30 pm)

* Changes to dates or hosting schedule
* Meeting time change

Hosting order: Barbara, Deanna, Allan, Bob, Marilynn, Wilfried, Gary, Robin, Janet, Ros, Lois, Michele, Elaine (Barbara subbed for Elaine June 2019). On hold: Jo.

Book Group meetings are held monthly on the 4th Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the summer and 1:30 p.m. in the winter, unless otherwise noted.